ABCA Honors Roll In For No. 8 Kent State Baseball
Rider, Starn earn All-America honors while Skulina, Roberts, Campbell garner Mideast Region Second Team recognition.
ATHENS, Ohio – No. 8 Kent State baseball's senior shortstop Jimmy Rider (Venetia, Pa.) and senior southpaw ace David Starn (Hudson, Ohio) have been named 2012 American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA)/Rawlings All-America selections while sophomore right-handed starting pitcher Tyler Skulina (Strongsville, Ohio), junior first baseman George Roberts (Summerhill, Pa.) and junior outfielder Evan Campbell (Beloit, Ohio) garnered ABCA/Rawlings All-Mideast Region Second Team honors, as announced by the ABCA and Ohio head coach Joe Carbone, chairman of the NCAA Mideast Region All-American Committee, Monday (June 25).
The Mid-American Conference had the most representatives on the All-Mideast Region First and Second Teams, led by five overall from Kent State, which earned its first NCAA College World Series berth in 2012.
Rider, who was named to the Second Team, and Starn, who was named to the Third Team, raise the program's ABCA All-America total to 12. The two are the first Golden Flashes to garner such honors since shortstop Emmanuel Burriss was named to the Third Team in 2006. The All-America honors for Starn and Rider raise Kent State's total to seven in 2012. Rider was also named a Baseball America First Team All-America selection while Starn also garnered Louisville Slugger Second Team All-America selection. Roberts also earned Louisville Slugger Second Team All-America selection while left-handed pitcher Brian Clark (Munroe Falls, Ohio) earned Louisville Slugger Freshman All-America recognition, as announced by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper. Senior catcher David Lyon (Emporium, Pa.) was named a 2012 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award Second Team All-America honoree.
Kent State's five All-Region selections up the program's total to 62 – including 18 under the direction of eighth-year head coach Scott Stricklin.
Rider put together a record-setting senior campaign en route to captaining the Golden Flashes to their first NCAA College World Series berth in program history. Rider set single-season school records with 106 hits and 30 doubles, ranking second in the country in 2012 in both categories. He ranked second on the team in batting average (.359) and RBIs (58), and his 295 at-bats rank as the most in a single-season in school history. Defensively, Rider cemented his place as the best shortstop in Kent State history with a .979 fielding percentage and a school-record 232 assists, which shattered his own previous mark of 199 established in his sophomore season of 2010. He committed just seven errors in 333 chances while fielding 32 double plays.
Rider hit .330 with 38 hits – including nine doubles and five home runs – to go along with 24 RBIs and 36 runs scored in conference play, earning him First Team All-MAC honors. Rider saved his best work for the national stage of NCAA Tournament, hitting a team-best .349 with a team-high 15 hits – including four doubles and a home run – to go along with nine RBIs. He produced the biggest hit in Kent State history in the winner-to-Omaha game three of the NCAA Eugene Super Regional, sending a bloop single into left field at PK Park to allow sophomore second baseman Derek Toadvine (Springfield, Ohio) to scamper home from second base and give the Golden Flashes a 3-2 walk-off win over then-No. 10 Oregon, punching Kent State's ticket to the 2012 NCAA College World Series. Rider goes down as the man responsible for the first run scored and RBI in Kent State's CWS history after launching a two-out solo shot into the opponent bullpen at TD Ameritrade Park in the sixth inning of Kent State's 8-1 loss to No. 6 Arkansas on June 16 in the opening game of Bracket 2 of the 2012 NCAA College World Series. Rider posted a double and two singles for his team-leading 32nd multi-hit game of the season to help Kent State top No. 1 Florida, 5-4, Monday (June 18) in a Bracket 2 elimination game.
Rider finishes his career as the most prolific hitter in MAC history with a record 353 base knocks. He was taken by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 26th round with the 796th pick of the 2012 MLB First-Year Player Draft. Rider is the fourth Kent State player to be drafted by his hometown Pirates and first since pitcher John VanBenschoten was Pittsburgh's first-round selection in 2001. Rider collected his 319th hit with a single to right field in the top of the first inning in Kent State's 13-4 triumph at Ohio on May 6 to surpass Scott Simon (2003-04, 06-07) of Northern Illinois for the conference's career hits record. In four seasons wearing the Blue & Gold, Rider hit .335 with 78 doubles (third-most in school history), eight triples and 13 home runs to go along with 194 RBIs (third-most in school history), and his 1,035 at-bats are the most in school history. Defensively, Rider complied a school-record 771 career assists and committed just 37 errors in 1,164 career chances for a fielding percentage of .968. He made 246 starts in 247 games played.
The son of Rosalind and Jim Rider played shortstop for Peters Township High School under Joe Maize. He helped the Indians to a WPIAL Class AAAA state championship in 2007 and was named to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette All-Section Team his sophomore and junior seasons.
A former walk-on, Starn blossomed into Kent State's career leader in pitching victories (29) strikeouts (347) and innings pitched (341.0). Starn became the second straight Kent State arm to earn MAC Pitcher of the Year recognition, 10th in program history and fourth under the tutelage of 15th-year associate head coach/pitching coach Mike Birkbeck in 2012. He ranked as the conference's top pitcher with a league-best 2.48 ERA and 127 strikeouts – the most in a single season in Kent State history - to go along with an 11-4 record on the hill. In conference action, Starn was 5-1 with a 2.21 ERA and 74 strikeouts against just 18 walks. He was selected by the Atlanta Braves with the 239th pick in the seventh round of the 2012 MLB First-Year Player Draft.
Starn garnered the MAC's final East Division Pitcher of the Week honors after dominating on the mound on May 17 in a 6-1 win over Akron in the Sixth Annual Diamond Classic For Kids at Canal Park. He fanned nine over six innings while giving up just one earned run on three hits and two walks. Starn became Kent State's new career strikeouts king on April 6 in the weekend series opener against Buffalo as the Flashes earned a thrilling 5-4 walk-off victory. Starn finished the contest with a career-high 12 strikeouts – including fanning nine of the first 16 batters he faced – to surpass the 274 career strikeouts mark set by Dirk Hayhurst (200-03) to move into first place in the school's record book. He struck out five over seven innings to up his career total to 300 as Kent State rolled to a 16-5 win over interdivision foe Western Michigan on April 27. Starn also earned the MAC's first East Division Pitcher of the Week honors of the 2012 season on Feb. 21 after the 2012 Louisville Slugger Third Team Pre-Season All-America selection twirled eight shutout innings and tallied nine strikeouts while scattering just four hits and walking only two on 104 pitches as Kent State rode his arm to blank No. 9 Georgia Tech, 5-0, to lift the lid off of the 2012 season in grand fashion in the opening game of the Rock Hill Coca-Cola Classic on Feb. 17. Starn became the first two-time MAC Tournament MVP in conference history, tossing three scoreless relief innings with three strikeouts to help Kent State overcome Central Michigan, 3-1, in the 2012 title game on May 26 and earn the distinction of being the MAC's best player in tournament play for a second-straight season and helping Kent State clinch its unprecedented fourth straight MAC Tournament crown and 10th in program history. The championship game relief work marked Starn's second appearance on the bump in the 2012 MAC Tournament. He shut down No. 8-seeded Buffalo over eight frames in the tournament opener on May 23, limiting the Bulls to two hits as the Flashes rolled to a 9-0 win.
Starn, who garnered First Team ABCA/Rawlings NCAA Mideast Region, First Team All-MAC and MAC Tournament MVP honors in 2011, tied Andy Sonnanstine (2004) for the most strikeouts in a single season in school history at the time with 117, which was tied for the 16th-most in the nation in 2011. Starn was the Sunday starter in an all-left-handed rotation that anchored a pitching staff that ranked sixth in the nation in team ERA with a 2.66 mark. He went 2-0 in two starts in the 2011 MAC Tournament, striking out 15 and allowing just two earned runs on 10 hits in 14.1 innings en route to garnering MVP accolades. He also ranked 48th in the nation with a 2.18 ERA.
The son of Vicki and Dave Starn helped Walsh Jesuit High School to a 34-3 record and an Ohio High School baseball state championship in 2008 under head coach Chris Kaczmar. He compiled a 34-6 career record on the mound including a 17-3 record his senior year.
A 2012 Second Team All-MAC pick, Skulina carried an 11-3 record with a 3.77 ERA and 106 strikeouts in his first season wearing the Blue & Gold – including a perfect 7-0 mark in MAC play with 54 strikeouts.
Skulina earned MAC East Division Pitcher of the Week honors three times in 2012. He tossed a two-hit shutout over six frames and recorded a career-high nine strikeouts March 4 at Western Kentucky, departing the game with a no decision and the contest locked in a scoreless tie. He dominated for eight-plus innings to earn his team-leading sixth pitching victory as the Kent State completed the weekend sweep in dominating fashion with a 7-1 triumph over Western Michigan April 29. Skulina baffled the Broncos over 8.1 innings – the deepest outing of his career – and carried a shutout into the ninth. He struck out six while giving up one earned run on six hits and a walk. Skulina did not allow a runner to advance past first base until Western Michigan junior first baseman Patrick Duncan hit a one-out RBI double to left field in the top of the ninth inning. Skulina earned his team-high seventh pitching victory of the season, improving to 7-2 thanks to nine strikeouts over 6.1 innings in the series finale at Ohio on May 6. He surrendered two earned runs on six hits and a walk.
Skulina earned the pitching victory for Kent State in the 3-2 win over then-No. 13 Kentucky in the 2012 NCAA Gary Regional Final, striking out five over seven frames. He then went 5.2 innings and struck out four at Oregon in the winner-take-all game three of the 2012 NCAA Eugene Super Regional on June 11.
Skulina sat out the 2011 season after transferring to Kent State from Virginia. The son of Russ and Lisa Skulina posted an undefeated 26-0 record as a starting pitcher at Walsh Jesuit High School under Kaczmar and garnered Louisville Slugger/Collegiate Baseball First Team High School All-American honors in 2009 and honorable mention accolades in 2010.
After starting the 2011 season in an 0-for-22 hitting slump, Roberts blossomed into the MAC Player of the Year in 2012, leading Kent State with a .364 batting average, a .549 slugging percentage and 66 RBIs to go along with 96 hits (second-most on the team) - including 23 doubles (second-most on the team), a triple and eight home runs (second-most on the team). In MAC play, Roberts led the charge with a .393 batting average, 42 hits and 31 RBIs.
Roberts ranked second on the team with 31 multi-hit games – including 17 games with two hits, 11 games with three hits and two games with four hits. Roberts, who has started 64 of the 65 games he played in, also continued to prove he is the top defensive first baseman in the MAC, recording a team-high 542 putouts while committing just seven errors in a team-high 595 chances. Roberts earned All-MAC Tournament Team recognition after hitting .421 with a team-high eight hits – including three doubles and a grand slam – to go along with a team-high seven RBIs. He was named the Most Outstanding Performer of the 2012 NCAA Gary Regional after hitting .389 with seven hits - including four doubles - to go along with four RBIs. In nine NCAA Tournament games, Roberts batted .341 (second-best on the team) with 14 hits (second-most on the team) – including a team-high five doubles – to go along with nine RBIs, tied for the most on the team.
The son of Charley and Deanna Roberts helped guide Forest Hills High School to a 12-5 record during his senior year with five home runs and a .487 batting average. He completed his high school career with eight home runs and a .444 average.
A Second Team All-MAC pick in 2012, Campbell ranked in the top five on the team in 10 major statistical categories, including batting average (fourth, .312), slugging percentage (fourth, .487), on base percentage (fifth, .378), runs scored (second, 61), hits (third, 87), RBIs (fourth, 40), doubles (third, 20), triples (tied for first, four), home runs (third, seven) and total bases (third, 136). He hit .313 in conference play with 35 hits – including a team-high three triples.
Campbell was named MAC East Division Player of the Week on Feb. 29 after batting .500 with seven hits and six RBIs to help Kent State win the weekend series at Lipscomb (Feb. 24-26), 2-1.
Campbell etched his place as one of the most clutch players in Kent State history with several big-time plays in the run to the 2012 NCAA College World Series. His three-run home run in the top of the eighth inning broke a scoreless tie and propelled Kent State to the program's first NCAA Regional Championship and a berth in the national tournament's round of 16 known as the Super Regionals with a 3-2 victory in the Gary Regional Final over then-No. 13 Kentucky on June 3. Campbell then made a leaping, turn-around catch in deep left-center field to bail Kent State out of a two-out, bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the ninth inning and secure a heart-stopping 7-6 win over then-No. 10 Oregon in the opening game of the best-of-three NCAA Eugene Super Regional.
The son of John and Dorothy Campbell set nine records at West Branch High School under head coach Lynn Grove, including career records in runs, hits, doubles, triples, RBI, batting average, slugging percentage and home runs as well as most homers in a single season.
Kent State's 2012 campaign was a historic one, with the Golden Flashes setting a new school standard for wins in a single season with 47, posting a 21-game winning streak and reaching the NCAA College World Series for the first time.
Ranked No. 8 in the nation according to Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, the Golden Flashes finished their 2012 campaign winning 39 of their last 49 games. The Flashes won a wire-to-wire regular season title and followed it up by going a perfect 4-0 in the MAC Tournament to clinch their fourth straight conference tournament crown.
Kent State, the NCAA Gary Regional's No. 3 seed, advanced to its second straight NCAA Regional winner's bracket final by outlasting Kentucky, 7-6, in 21 innings in the regional opener on June 1 – the second-longest game in the history of the NCAA Tournament – then knocked off the regional host and top seed, then-No. 16 Purdue, 7-3, the following day. Kent State clinched the NCAA Championship Gary Regional title with a 3-2 triumph over then-No. 13 Kentucky on June 3 at U.S. Steel Yard in Gary, Ind., marking Kent State's first regional championship.
The Golden Flashes then traveled 2,492 miles to the Pacific Northwest to battle then-No. 10 Oregon in the best-of-three NCAA Eugene Super Regional. Campbell made a leaping, turn-around catch in deep left-center field to bail Kent State out of a two-out, bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the ninth inning and secure a heart-stopping 7-6 win over Oregon in the opening game of the series on June 9. The Ducks rallied from a 2-0 deficit the following night by plating three runs in the seventh inning to overcome the Flashes and force a winner-take-all game three. History repeated itself on June 11 as Kent State's 2-0 lead evaporated in the eighth inning, but a bottom-of-the-ninth, one-out, walk-off bloop single by Rider sent the Golden Flashes to Omaha for the first time in program history.
Kent State's first NCAA College World Series appearance was highlighted by a 5-4 win over No. 1 Florida in a Bracket 2 elimination game.